Euro 2012 is finally here. It’s time to see how our rankings matches up with the play on the field. For our latest win probabilities for Euro 2012, click here to see our interactive bracket. Here are our three top thoughts from today’s action.
1. Russia shredded the Czech Republic back line.
Sometimes a 4-1 score doesn’t accurately reflect what occurred on the pitch. Maybe a questionable hand ball in the box leads to a penalty kick goal. Maybe it’s a bad offside call.
This time, 4-1 perfectly reflects the poor play of the Czech Republic back line. Russia could have easily scored 6 goals. Even all world goalkeeper Peter Cech couldn’t stop the onslaught, although he did get a hand on two of the goals. In our rankings, the Czech Republic’s defense is 47th best in the world, giving up 1.05 goals against an average offense. They didn’t look nearly that good today.
The Czech Republic’s probability of making the knock out stage dropped from 44% to 24%, while Russia’s chances increased from 63% to 86%. Since Russia has higher chance to make the knock out stage, their chance to win Euro 2012 jumps to 6.9%. This puts them in the same league England, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, and Italy, countries that all have about a 5-7% of raising the trophy at the end of Euro 2012.
2. Greece and Poland was dramatic.
A red card for Greece on two questionable fouls.
A red card on Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny that gave Greece a penalty kick.
A save on the first play by the backup Polish goalkeeper Przemwyslaw Tyton on the aforementioned penalty kick.
It all added up to a 1-1 tie for Poland and Greece. Before the tourney, we decided that 10 games of World Cup qualifying was too few games to evaluate Poland. As host country for Euro 2012, they didn’t have to qualify, which doesn’t leave any meaningful games for the squad the last two years. When we added friendly matches since June, 2010 for Poland, their rank shot up from 94 to 44.
But at 44th in our rankings, Poland is the second worst team in this tourney to Croatia. After some good play in the first half, they played like the second worst team in the tourney. Greece was the better side in the 2nd half, and probably the better squad overall.
The tie leaves the probability of making the knock out stage unchanged for Poland and Greece.
3. How about that home field advantage?
In book Scorecasting, Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim show evidence that home advantage comes from the referee’s preferential treatment for the home team. The first game of Euro 2012 provided a perfect example, as Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo gave Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos two yellow cards in the first half. The first offense was a foul, but not a yellow card offense. On the second play, the Polish attacker simply fell to the ground, aided by Papstathopoulos’s elbow on the way down.
Carballo also gave Poland a red card. But goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny clearly kicked a Greek player in the ankle to prevent a goal. Chalk up another win for sports analytics.
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